County bonus antlerless quotas reduced for 2023-24
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is a common disease in the Indiana deer herd, and every year the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) receives reports of EHD throughout the state via its online reporting system at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife. The DNR monitors the locations and numbers of sick and dead deer reports to evaluate the effect of EHD. In many cases, EHD only affects a small area within a county, often along a creek or stream. In some years, however, EHD can affect a larger-than-normal portion of the deer and becomes widespread across a county. In those instances, the DNR lowers the County Bonus Antlerless Quotas (CBAQ) in the impacted counties to offset the effect of the counties’ EHD outbreak.
In mid-August 2022, the DNR began mapping and evaluating the effects of EHD based on public reports, looking for counties where a large portion of the estimated deer population was being affected by EHD. The DNR found that the most heavily affected counties were Wayne, Union, Fayette, and Franklin, and the DNR reduced the CBAQ in those counties from a 2 to a 1 in 2022.
In 2023, the DNR collected data from crewed airplane flights and used that information to calculate a postharvest density in the lower third of Dearborn County and the northeastern portion of Franklin County and found the density to be 9.4 deer per square mile (95% confidence interval of + 1.5). It is likely the density of deer in this area is normally around 27 to 30 deer per square mile after the harvest, leaving about one-third of normal postharvest density. Because of this decrease in the population, the DNR has lowered the CBAQ to zero for Fayette and Franklin counties (down from the normal CBAQ of three) in an effort to lower the harvest during the next one to two years in this area. At that quota, the DNR expects the population will recover in about five years. With a county bonus antlerless quota of zero, the DNR expects about 125 antlerless deer to be harvested in Fayette County and 400 antlerless deer to be harvested in Franklin County using crossbows, archery equipment, and muzzleloaders.
A county bonus antlerless quota of zero in Fayette and Franklin counties will also mean that no antlerless deer can be harvested during the two-day youth season in September because the number of antlerless deer that can normally be harvested is based on the county bonus antlerless quota. Youth will be able to harvest antlerless deer during archery and muzzleloader seasons with equipment that is legal during those seasons, but they will not be able to harvest antlerless deer with a firearm in 2023.
Other counties in this area were also affected by EHD, and the CBAQ was lowered based on the relative effect of EHD on the deer herd indicated by the volume and distribution of the sick and dead deer reports, estimated mortality of deer due to EHD, the results of the deer harvest, and data on changes in the deer hunting effort. As a result, DNR lowered the CBAQ in Henry, Wayne, Union, Ripley, and Ohio counties to one for the 2023-2024 hunting season.
Joe N. Caudell, Ph.D.
Deer Program Leader
2022 Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) Reports
Analysis of reports from each county. Counties considered a ‘hotspot’ received additional analysis and data collection to determine the severity of EHD in each of these counties.
- Bullets points = reports of sick/dead deer
- Shaded squares = EHD hotspot
Revised 2023-2024 County Bonus Antlerless Quotas
The County Bonus Antlerless Quotas in Henry, Wayne, Fayette, Union, Franklin, Ripley, Dearborn, and Ohio were all lowered from normal quota levels due to the EHD event in 2022.